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Random Thoughts

laz3coverHello, folks!

Got confirmation yesterday that I’ll be presenting at this year’s Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, Georgia. I’ll be there the first weekend in October, presenting at least talk and also serving on at least one panel. You can head over to their website to register for the conference, which is always great fun. There are writers from many different disciplines who do presentations, including non-fiction, comics and a lot more. Definitely worth your time, whether you’re a novice or an experienced pro.

I read over a Kindle Worlds yesterday and not to sound arrogant but I think I can do better than that. So at some point I do plan to contribute something to the Valiant side of Kindle Worlds. Right now, I’m going to stay focused on driving forward with Gravedigger and then I have to do the mystery project that I teased last week. THEN, maybe I can belt out a Kindle Worlds short before returning to Lazarus Gray. Oh, and then I need to start work on that Thunder Jim Wade novella for Pro Se’s Pulp Obscura line.

Okay, now I’m tired from thinking about all the stuff I have to do! Ugh.

I’ve been really enjoying Defiance on Scy-Fy, though I wish they’d stop killing characters in every episode. They actually teased the season finale by saying that someone’s journey would come to an end. Isn’t that every episode? Death loses its impact if you’re continually killing off the supporting cast.

Don’t forget that I have a couple of recent releases that are for sale (and badly in need of more reviews!!!) – if you’re interested, please check out The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon and The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One. I appreciate getting your feedback but I also love it when you leave reviews on Amazon as they spur more sales from others.

Take Care, Everyone!

Friday Fun (Now With 35% More Fred Hembeck!)

hembeck_smallerIt’s finally here — FRIDAY! Yes, we’re all celebrating at Ye Olde Blog as the end of the workweek looms large. I don’t have any major plans for the weekend, though we will be heading out as a family to see Monsters University.

Yesterday saw the first comics company announce a licensing agreement with Kindle Worlds — and it’s none other than Valiant! I’m a big fan of their universe and back in my fanfic days, I wrote many stories featuring X-O Manowar, Shadowman and a few characters they no longer utilize (Magnus & Solar). I had a good half dozen people forward me the news yesterday… and I am mightily intrigued. I might dust off some of the old tales I wrote and see if I can make something out of them. I like to think I’m a better writer now than I was back then, after all. We’ll see — Kindle Worlds is still making announcements and hasn’t actually gone live at this point.

Writing on The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume Two is going quite well. I’m close to 16,000 words into the novel and I’ve set up all the main villains, their plot… and even had Gravedigger shot in the streets of Sovereign City and left for dead! Pulp fiction, ladies and gentlemen… where the action is fast and furious!

Just finished reading Xenos, which is the first novel in the Eisenhorn series by Dan Abnett. Really, really good stuff. I’m going to read a Shadow novel next and then probably dive back into the Eisenhorn omnibus.

I have no hard sales figures but anecdotally, I believe that The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon is off to a good start, sales-wise. The snafu that led to the eBook version being available for a week before the print one might have driven a few sales towards digital but that’s okay. It takes many more digital sales for me to make as much as I do off a single print sale but if I were doing this just for the money, I’d be a fool. As long as you guys are reading and enjoying, that’s the main thing.

Another episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast went live yesterday — 36 episodes and counting! Hard to believe I’ve done so many — and there’s no end in sight!

Our art today is from the amazing Fred Hembeck — you know you’ve made it in this world when Fred’s done the squiggly knees effect on one of your characters!

Enjoy.

The Day After

LG3_cover_smallHello and welcome to another Friday edition of Ye Olde Blog!

Yesterday was a busy day around here as we set an all-time record for hits to this site. My post about Kindle Worlds was shared far and wide, for which I am quite appreciative. I was surprised that most of the Kindle Worlds hate that I’d seen the day before didn’t pop up in response to my posting but maybe I was just so persuasive that I changed their minds 😉 More likely, cooler heads had prevailed by the time I actually posted my blog and people have moved into the “wait and see” mode.

Now, normally on Fridays I’ve been doing New Pulp Recommendations but I think that’s going to become just an irregular feature. Whenever I have something that I’m enthused about, I’ll post about it and encourage others to check it out. If I don’t have anything foremost in my head, I won’t force myself to come up with one. A perfect solution, at least for me!

Heard from Pro Se Press design guru Sean Ali yesterday. Looks like they’re in the final days of getting The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 3 laid out and ready to go. This will be the middle chapter of a huge, sprawling epic that spans books 2-4. When you finish volume 3, you’ll see that the story is obviously not quite complete but I do think it stands well as a grand adventure on its own. With this one, we’ll introduce a major new hero named The Darkling and we also see the transformation of one Assistance Unlimited member into a much darker character known as Eidolon. The cover to the third edition is included with this post and it’s by the amazing George Sellas.

Considering that the second book in the series won Best Novel, Best Cover and Best Interior Art in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards, I’m hoping that there will be a lot of interest and excitement over this next release.

I did type THE END on the first story that will run in Lazarus Gray Volume 5. After the big events of the previous three books, I plan for volume five to follow the model we had for the first book – five or six short stories, all with running subplots going through them. The first one deals mainly with a felonious financier (I like alliteration) and a zeppelin crewed by beautiful deadly ladies. At the end of it, we’re introduced to a larger threat that will wind its way through the rest of the book. Should be fun!

Now I need to put the finishing touches on this weird western tale for Mechanoid Press and then I can work some more on Gravedigger Volume Two.

Always busy!

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

vanessa_hudgens_fightSo… yesterday the Internet’s writing communities went to war.

You may have missed it, since a war in the online writing communities is easy to ignore unless you’re in the midst of the stinging accusations, pointed jabs and hyperbole.

What brought about all of this?

Well, Amazon, of course!

The multimedia online retailer is both the bane and boon of many a writer’s existence and yesterday Amazon either strode forth bravely, changing the writing landscape forever… or engaged in a bit of reprehensible behavior for which there is no excuse! It all depends on where you fall on the deciding line.

This is what Amazon announced:

Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way. 

The Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform will launch soon and enable you to submit your original works for publication. Can’t wait to start writing? Learn more on our Kindle Worlds for Authors page.

In other words, all those Gossip Girl novels you’ve got hidden in the dark recesses of your flash drives can now be shared with the world — and you can even make money off of them! Yep, Amazon is willing to pay you 35% net revenue on each story/novella/novel sold. For some, this is very exciting! Assuming they eventually put up other licenses like Doctor Who or Batman, you could conceivably write a “licensed” novel featuring those characters. It’s kinda-sorta official since they’re saying you can do it and you’re potentially making money off of it. Many a fanboy and fangirl’s heart just went BOOM-BOOM.

How’s it going to work? Let’s see:

  • Kindle Worlds will accept novels, novellas, and short stories inspired by the Worlds we have licensed.
  • Using our Cover Creator, you will be able to design a cover for your Kindle Worlds story.
  • World Licensors have provided Content Guidelines for each World, and your work must follow these Content Guidelines. We strongly encourage you to read the Content Guidelines before you commit the time and effort to write.
  • Stories will be available in digital format exclusively on Amazon.com, Kindle devices, iOS, Android, and PC/Mac via our Kindle Free Reading apps. We hope to offer additional formats in the future.
  • You will receive monthly royalty reports and payments for all copies sold.

Now, the only “content guidelines” currently available are relatively minor and obvious – no pornography (sorry, shippers), no illegal content, no crossing over of worlds (so no My Little Pony meets The Vampire Diaries), etc.

There are some who see this as an awful, awful thing. They point out that some writers make their living writing licensed novels and this is basically taking a big old crap on what they’re doing. I’m not too sure about that — guys who write Star Trek novels, for instance, have always had to compete with people who wrote fan novels and posted them for free online (or even charged for them — go to Lulu.com and type in Star Trek… you’ll find plenty of Trek novels up there for $$). Heck, it seems like “free” would take away more sales from Peter David than “$2.99” but maybe I’m being a fool.

If you want to get into the whole “but letting anybody write Captain Kirk devalues the work of real writers who work on the character,” then okay… but I think that Peter David will always have an advantage over any Trek novel I would write. His work will appear not only in eBook format but in print, whereas currently none of the Kindle Worlds works will. That means that the remaining brick and mortar stores (hi, Barnes & Noble!) will likely have Peter’s book but they won’t have mine and they won’t even have it on the Nook since the eVersions are amazon exclusives.

Plus, he’s Peter David and I’m not.

Some folks say this is “reprehensible” because Amazon is fooling gullible writers into thinking this is some golden ticket to success. If Amazon were charging you for the privilege of writing Gossip Girl, I might could see that. But they’re not. In fact, they’re PAYING you for the sales you’ll be getting.

That sounds a hell of a lot less reprehensible than the treatment I’ve gotten from some “real” publishers.

As for the intellectual property owners, this is absolutely brilliant, especially for dormant properties. Why? Because they have the fans creating new product for them and if the IP owners see something that clicks with the fans, they can monetize it as they see fit.

How? Let’s see:

We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.

This means that if I write an Arrow novel and introduce an amazingly awesome villain named Mr. Cool Dude and millions of people download that story ’cause Mr. Cool Dude lives up to his name, then Warner Bros. can take my character and stick him on the tv show or even give him his own action figure and cartoon series… all without paying me a cent. Talk about your ultimate research & development goldmine! And if I publish my Arrow novel and it’s absolutely horrible – and Mr. Cool Dude becomes the target of internet wrath or (even worse) is 100% completely and totally ignored by the reading public…

It doesn’t hurt Warner Brothers in the least.

I’ve heard some people say that the fanfiction crowd “will never go for this” since most of them are very into the “writing for free” model. They’d be offended by the offer of money because they’re real fans, doing it for the love.

99% of the time, that’s absolute crap. They may say it but they don’t really mean it.

How do I know?

Because I used to say it, too! Writers say they’re doing it for the “art” and for the “love” to rationalize why they’re spending so much time on something that’s not making them $$. When Marvel came to my door and asked me to jump aboard, do you know how quickly I went from “But I do it for the love” to “How high should I jump, sir?” — about 3.5 seconds!

Any fan who loves writing Star Trek novels will adore having the potential audience for their work increased and the chance to make 35% of the net profits. Will some poor fool create the next Captain Kirk and basically give it to Paramount for free by including him in one of these novels? Maybe. But you can’t cure dumb, people, so don’t even try.

There’s nothing currently available that interests me. I don’t watch Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries or Pretty Little Liars. If they do add other “worlds,” I might reconsider. Man, I’d love to write a Batman novel and make a few pennies off of it. Even if I made no more than $30, that isn’t far off from what I’ve earned for things of my own creation that I’ve written! And if Conde Nast threw The Shadow out there, I’d write the hell out of that!

It’s not the end of the world. This is not the death knell of licensed fiction. Amazon isn’t looking for ways to shaft “real publishing.” But all the people involved in this are business folks. They want to make money. The fact that they’ve finally found a way to make money off stuff people have been writing anyway is brilliant — AND it potentially brings money to people who were writing the stuff for free anyway.

I say we back off and see how it goes. Maybe it’ll be a huge flop and a year from now, we’ll all be going “Remember Kindle Worlds? Hahahahahaha.”

But I’d be willing to bet that Amazon might have stumbled onto something here.

We’ll see.